Flo smart thermometer works without touching

The Flo thermometer from Zeraph is a contact-free thermometer that allows you to take temperatures without touch.

Just hold Flo about an inch away from the person’s forehead and in a second, you’ve got their number.  The simplified LED system flashes green when temperature is normal or red when your patient has a fever.  You can even use it without needing to wake up you kids, or a sick spouse. Plus, it works for checking the temperature of liquids like a baby bottle or bath water. Hold Flo about 1 inch from the liquid and you’ll know the temperature of what’s inside.

App keeps track

Flo works with a companion app that allows you to add photos for family members, notes and to keep records for everyone in the  family.

Zeraph Flo is available for $49.99 USD from the company’s website.

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iRobot Roomba 980 is all new: more power, more smarts

irobot roomba 980iRobot, the makers of the Roomba vacuum have updated their top of the line robot housekeeper with some brand new technology.

The Roomba 980 looks a little different from previous models; (read my review of the iRobot Roomba 880 HERE) mainly sleeker, slimmer and with a more streamlined control panel.

I had the chance to live with the 980 for several weeks, and to compare it to the earlier 880 model too. Watch my video review & test too; scroll down the page to see it.

What’s new with iRobot Roomba? 980 is all new

There are three primary upgrades to the autonomous vacuum robots: navigation, cloud connectivity, and a new motor that does better on carpet.

Roomba Upgrade #1: Improved Navigation

That window in the bottom of the photo is the irobot roomba camera.
That window in the bottom of the photo is the camera.

The Roomba 980 has a host of improvements on the navigation front. There’s a brand new camera in the top of the robot which helps it find its way around obstacles and rooms. Two optical sensors in the undercarriage work similar to your computer mouse; they read the location on a surface to track the device’s position. This allows the device to see and understand its position in your home. Like previous versions, the Roomba also recognizes drop-offs like staircases, and learns to avoid them, backing away from any cliffs.

No more ‘lighthouses’

The new 980 can also do more; while the previous version 880 was really only able to take on three rooms at a time, and required ‘lighthouses’ to draw the Roomba 880 in to more distant areas. with the new technology, Roomba 980 can find his way around the entire floor of the home, and even learns it’s way around so you are less likely to find the robot stranded in a distant room (a quirk of the 880).

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Knows when to recharge

The Roomba 980 also knows when its time to recharge. It will clean as much as it can on a single charge, then return to its charging base to re-juice.

If you’re watching the new Roomba 980 clean you’ll notice it uses a much more linear grid pattern, and that its movements seem more deliberate than previous models. That comes from, in part, the new navigational guts which create kind of a map of your home, which it them learns to follow. Move some furniture? No problem, Roomba 980 will learn to adapt.

Roomba Upgrade #2: Cloud Connection

irobot roomba appThe new Roomba 980 can now be controlled with your smartphone. Using the iRobot Home app, you can start and stop the cleaning cycle from anywhere. You can also set and change schedules and adjust settings easily, and order up extra passes over extra dirty areas. It’s a handy feature I like because if I go out and want the robot to sweep up while I’m gone (but forgot to turn it on or schedule the cleaning), it’s a single click, and I can come home to a tidy dog-hair-free floor.

The app is very easy to use, and also allows you to manage multiple robots (and name them; fun!), including the iRobot BraavaJet mopping robot. (Read a review of that device here)

The app will let you know too when the dustbin is full, and you can also sound a tone to find the robot if it disappears under a bed. One other handy feature of the app is built in help if you need it and a direct portal to the iRobot store to buy things like replacement mopping pads for the BraavaJet.

Roomba Upgrade #3: New motor & “Carpet Boost”

The final major upgrade to the Roomba system is a new motor for the 980 version. The new motor has a built in feature that attacks carpet dirt better than previous robots. “Carpet Boost” as the technology is called can detect rugs, and when it does it cranks up the motor to increase suction to pull dirt from the fibers.

That low/high switch actually allows the robot to have a longer battery life (closer to 2 hours), since the increase in power only cranks on when it’s needed.

Roomba 980 – Can you see a difference?

The differences between the new Roomba 980, and previous versions may not be stark, but they’re there. I quickly noticed the more linear cleaning pattern on the 980, but I also really heard it when the carpet boost kicked in.

Another difference I noticed was the amount of debris and pet hair that collected in the dustbin; there’s more collecting in the 980. I checked with iRobot to make sure it’s not any bigger, and it’s not, but what is happening is that the more powerful motor is picking up more dirt, compacting it and thus it looks like it’s holding more.

The 980 is obviously more expensive than other robots in the iRobot line, but with the new features it seems worth it.

My take – iRobot Roomba 980
I never thought I’d need a robot vacuum, but I have to say, after living with one for so long, I don’t want to give it up. It takes care of pet hair in particular really well, and saves swiffering daily. I love the fact it can be scheduled to clean when I’m out, or that I can turn it on from the office via the app.

The 980 gets under furniture easily, and does a pretty good job at corners, considering it’s round. I found it super handy, too, for spot cleaning dry spills or crumbs.

While there’s no denying this device is an investment, and you’ll probably still need a second vacuum to do the heavy duty deep cleaning (stairs, blinds, etc), but at least the Roomba 980 will ensure you have to drag out the full sized vacuum a lot less.

The iRobot Roomba 980 is $899US / $1099 from the iRobot website. (The previous model 880 is $599US / $849CAD) You can also find them at places like Best Buy.

 

 

 

Cute Playbulb Zoocoro lamp is a great nightlight for kids

Playbulb zoocoro animal lampKids love animals so they’re bound to love this new line of lamps, particularly little ones who don’t like to be left in the dark.

Meet Playbulb Zoocoro!

Playbulb Zoocoro lights are small plastic lamps that are rechargeable, and can be used while plugged in, or away from their charging base to supply light anywhere you need it. Continue reading “Cute Playbulb Zoocoro lamp is a great nightlight for kids”

New Google Pixel phone launches in Canada: review

Google Pixel Phone front pinkIt’s probably one of the most anticipated smart phone launches in years. Google’s new Pixel phone is now out on the market and I was able to get my hands on one in advance for testing and review. Pixel is the first ever phone designed end to end by Google and it launches October 20, 2016. Continue reading “New Google Pixel phone launches in Canada: review”

5 beauty gadgets you need now

This month on CTV Tech Talk we looked at Beauty Gadgets.

tech-talk-octoberDyson Supersonic hair dryer

img_6012The hype around this beauty gadget has been phenomenal.  Dyson, best known for its bagless, superstrong vacuums and bladeless fans, has taken its years of technology and knowledge and made it fit in the palm of your hand.

The Dyson supersonic hair dryer is definitely the priciest of hair dryers ($499CAD), but I can attest that it dries hair significantly faster than a traditional drug store dryer. Continue reading “5 beauty gadgets you need now”

Dyson Supersonic hair dryer review

img_6012No woman likes drying her hair. It takes time to do well, holding a heavy dryer over your head for 20-plus minutes is tiring, and having a loud whine in your ear really sets a  certain tone for the day.

It’s not surprising then there’s been lots of interest now that someone has finally decided there’s a better way.  Dyson, makers of cyclonic bagless vacuums and bladeless fans and heaters has announced its new hair dryer, and it features similar technology to its other products, but refined and on a much smaller scale. Continue reading “Dyson Supersonic hair dryer review”

Clarisonic Mia Fit Review: facial cleansing for women & men

img_5915For the soap and water purists, the idea of spending over two hundred dollars on something to clean your face is appalling. Yet legions of loyal fans swear by the effectiveness of Clarisonic ultrasonic skin care devices.

I wrote previously about the Clarisonic Smart Profile brush (much to my surprise I really, really liked it and now use one several times a week. Read my review here)

Meet Clarisonic Mia Fit and Alpha Fit

Clarisonic now has a different brush in this range; it’s smaller, more compact and less expensive than the multi-purpose Smart Profile, but it still has the basics of ultrasonic cleaning covered.mia-alpha

The Mia Fit, and Alpha Fit for men, are essentially the same device in gender-specific packaging and design, but there are some differences, which we’ll get to. Continue reading “Clarisonic Mia Fit Review: facial cleansing for women & men”

Review: Clarisonic Smart Profile face brush

Clarisonic_Pro_Main I’m a beauty product junkie. I love trying new products like lipstick, blush, and other cosmetics, however I’ve never been one to experiment with my skincare regimen. I’ll find something that works well, and stick with it for years. As a teenager that was Noxzema and Ten-O-six astringent. I moved to Oil of Olay face cream and Clearasil, and on to Ole Henrickson Nurture Me and Truth Serum. I stick with what I know because it works, and because I like the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

So I was skeptical when I got a chance to try out a Clarisonic cleaning brush. After all, my face was fine; evenly moisturized, no major complaints, why would I need to change it up? But in the name of technology (and keeping the blog interesting!), I often step outside my comfort zone and try new things. (If you want the quick scoop, skip to the bottom. That includes an update on whether I still like it/use it a year later.)

 About Clarisonic face brushes

Clarisonic makes face and body brushes that use ultrasonic waves to lift dirt and impurities from the skin, supposedly resulting in a much deeper clean, and healthier skin. While some cleansing brushes use a spinning head to scrub the skin, Clarisoninc’s devices use what they say is patented technology.

“Unlike spinning devices, our patented sonic technology works with skin’s natural elasticity, oscillating at a sonic frequency that produces over 300 movements per second. The resulting flexing action created between the outer and inner brushes work to loosen dirt and oil, removing deep-seated impurities from pores and priming skin to better absorb topical treatments.”

Testing the Clarisonic Smart Profile

IMG_7470It was a bit weird trying to figure out how to charge the Clarisonic for the first time. It comes with a plug that has a tiny charging pad on the end of the cord, but initially I couldn’t figure out where on the device it attaches. It’s magnetic, so there’s no obvious connection. I eventually figured it out by dragging the magnet around the device. Detective Erin! Fully charged, it was time to put brush to face.

After the very first time I used the Clarisonic, my skin felt fantastic. It’s kind of like the way your skin feels after a facial, or a deep micro dermabrasion; it felt like I had brand-new skin.

The brush vibrates, it doesn’t scrub, so it doesn’t feel too vigorous. It’s not all that different from using one of those vibrating toothbrushes. You can use whichever brand of cleanser you prefer, meaning you can stick to your regular skincare regimen if that’s your thing, or you can choose one of Clarisonic’s own cleansers for the full “Clarisonic Method”.

What’s in the box?

The brush I tried was the Clarisonic Smart Profile, the Cadillac of the brush family, which sells for for an investment-level $299 CAD. It comes with the rechargeable handheld device, a silky soft face brush, plus a larger and stiffer body brush, so it’s a bit more versatile than a straight up face-only brush.

The Clarisonic Purge Effect?

IMG_7466As I started my trials, and began posting updates on Twitter and Instagram (Follow me @ErinLYYC) I heard from a friend that there was something called the Clarisonic effect, or the Clarisonic purge. Basically what happens is your skin is not used to being as clean as it’s about to be (essentially having all the dirt shaken free from your pores), so a ton of dirt and oil will come to the surface, causing a period of breakouts. From the research I did this is not unusual, though for some people this persists and become a problem. For most people, myself included, this was not an ongoing concern, and a couple blemishes were the worst side effect I experienced.

I did what was recommended and started using the brush just a couple times a week. After each treatment my skin definitely felt soft and smooth and firm. Eventually I increased the treatments to every other day. I still found that on the days when I used the Clarisonic brush my skin felt much cleaner and much smoother than normal.

Features of the Clarisonic brush

The Clarisonic brushes are waterproof, and use smart technology to tell you when to move to a different area of your face. Clarisonic calls that its “Adjustable T-Timer” which the company says allows for “even and thorough cleansing of your face and body.” The brush has 4 adjustable speeds, including a turbo boost for extra-deep cleansing. Clarisonic also says using the brush will “beautifully transform skin’s texture, reducing the appearance of pore size, fine lines and wrinkles (based on a self-assessment on 36 women after 8 weeks, as posted on its website), and creating a softer, smoother, more radiant complexion”.

IMG_7465Smart technology for beauty

The brush also knows when you’re using the different brush heads, and it will adjust speed and timers accordingly.

“When the Body Brush Head is attached, the Clarisonic handle switches to Body Mode and the T-Timer® is automatically set to three minutes. Pressing the speed button while in Body Mode toggles between constant and pulse settings. The pulse setting is great for the head/neck area and provides a different sensation than the constant setting.”

The device has a setting to let you know when you should replace your brush heads. A battery light indicator also gives you a heads up about when it’s time to recharge.  I found that there was a relatively short turnaround between the low battery indicator coming on and the device actually dying, so keep that in mind. A charge will last about two weeks with moderate use. I was using mine about every 2 to 3 days and only needed to charge it about every two weeks.

A doctor’s opinion on Clarisonic Smart Profile

While I was enjoying the effects of the Clarisonic brush, I decided I needed a professional level opinion to see if what the device was doing was real or perceived, permanent or or temporary.

I spoke with expert Dr. Kristina Zakhary who runs a successful plastic surgery clinic in Calgary. When she and I first spoke she admitted not knowing much about ultrasonic cleansing technology for the skin, but to getting questions about it.

“A lot of my patients use them. They’re always asking me about them,” she explained.

Dr Zakhary explained that even though there are many skin cleansing products commercially available, the cleansing of the skin is dependent almost entirely on the user’s diligence, compliance, and technique. That often often results in inconsistent cleansing. When the skin is inadequately or excessively cleansed, the skin becomes “compromised,” according to Dr Zakhary, sometimes leading to acute or chronic conditions that may require medical attention.

Dr Zakhary did some research on my behalf and found the sonic skincare brush was developed to enhance and provide consistent skin cleansing while preventing the skin from becoming “compromised,” or irritated. The technology to clean the skin with ultrasonic waves originated from dental technology. If you’ve had any kind of dental cleaning in the last 10 years, you’ve probably had them use that skull-piercing ultrasonic device to scrub plaque off your teeth. The same technology (minus the brain-jabbing squeal) is used by Clarisonic on your skin. The brush is designed to work with the skin’s own elasticity providing rapid “oscillatory flexing,” as Dr Zakhary explained it, to shake dirt loose from your pores.

Getting the research/proof

There were not a lot of medical studies or similar research publicly available on the Clarisonic device. One study that was cited widely while I was researching appeared to have been done by Clarisonic itself back in 2006. The study is called, “Development of sonic technology for the daily cleansing of the skin” by Robert E Akridge PhD and Kenneth A Pilcher BSEE. Some Googling found a Robert Akridge who works (or worked?) for Clarisonic. I emailed Dr Akridge (via his Clarisonic email address) to ask for more information about the research on this device, but recieved no response.

Another journal article has good things to say about the device, but it too relies on the 2006 study.

Now, all this is not to try to imply the device isn’t effective or the study’s results are flawed. I enjoyed my experience and have continued to use the brush. I find it softens the skin on both face and body and leaves me with a deeper feeling of clean. It’s just to say, if you’re the type who needs to be swayed by scientific proof before you’ll plop $300 down on a beauty gadget, you might want to read user reviews rather than studies.

The internet loves Clarisonic

People around the internet, in my social circle, and across my office LOVE this device. Every single person who has a device whom I asked about their experience, said they couldn’t live without their Clarisonic.  Sephora and Ulta Beauty users, for example, also give it top marks, rating it 4.7 and 4.6 out of 5.

Some comments from Sephora:

“I‘ve owned my Clarisonic for a little over two years now. I love the way it makes my skin feel and it has really made a difference in my complexion (when getting a facial was told I almost didn’t need one)…”

This cleans your face so well that after that first wash, you can seriously feel all your pores finally open up and breath. It feels amazing, I’ve suggested this to everyone, you don’t need to have bad skin to buy this, my mom has beautiful skin and she’s obsessed with this. It’s so easy to use and so perfectly made, easy to hold, even easier to charge.”

While the positive comments vastly outnumber the negative ones, some people aren’t jazzed by the Clarisonic devices:

“I was really hoping this product would change everything. I used it for months and saw no difference in my clogged pores or in my skin tone. It is basically like using a rough washcloth. It also ran out of battery very quickly. I don”t advise the investment.”

My verdict on Clarisonic Smart Profile

I like the device and will continue to use it, because I feel like it cleans effectively but gently, it lasts a long time on a charge, and it’s easy to keep stashed in the shower, squirt some cleanser on and use it.

I’ve actually pared back my use of the device to about once or twice a week, only because I feel like that’s a good frequency for my skin. While I use both the face and body brushes on a regular basis, I feel like the device is very expensive, and that if price is a major hurdle, that getting one of the less expensive options like the $145 Clarisonic Mia version would do just as well. In short, while I probably wouldn’t have gone out and bought one of these on my own, I’m a convert after having had the opportunity to sample one.

UPDATE: After having one of these for over a year, I still use it once or twice weekly and love the results.

If you have experiences with this device, or have info about medical research on it, I’d love to hear from you.  Please get in touch!

Clarisonic Mia Fit is another brush option

I also reviewed the Clarisonic Mia Fit brush. Click here for the review or watch the video below.

Easy Halloween hacks; decorate with smart lights

Halloween is around the corner, and there’s an easy way to get your home ready.

Coloured light bulbs can easily transform your home into a spooky space; whether you want orange to light up your front window pumpkin, or some darker lighting scenes to create a creepier vibe. Continue reading “Easy Halloween hacks; decorate with smart lights”